Richard North Patterson is a seriously good courtroom drama writer. He also does a good job of weaving political issues, mainly from a liberal perspective, into his works. While I have generally moved away from the “beach book,” I picked up Exile a few months ago for a few bucks and thought it would make sense to read while taking a cross-country business trip.
Indeed, it was a good enough read, but at 700-plus pages, it’s waaaay too long. It tackles one of the most complicated, tenuous issues in the world – the Israeli-Palestinian strife. I’d go into the details of the book itself, but frankly I was disappointed by even what the back cover gave away – I write this review more to talk about where Exile goes right and wrong.
Patterson does a good job at presenting both sides of the issue, while taking no pains to show how acts of violence by each side do more harm than good (something I find hard to object to). Patterson obviously traveled to the area for research, and this more than anything else seems to be the reason that over a third of the book (that is, 250-300 pages) is set in the Middle East as the protagonist tries to track down the truth.
It’s all well told, and again, fairly accurate and unbiased – but the story itself suffers for it. I guessed the surprise ending on approximately page 100, and felt let down by the way it got revealed or discussed. While the book does a good job on a complicated issue, there are many better non-fiction writers I’ve read and should read more of about the topic.
All in all, I can’t really recommend Exile, as it’s far too long and the story just isn’t that great. I admire Patterson as a writer, and the way he talks about one of the most polarizing issues in the world today. But this book isn’t worth your time.